When I first started teaching a decade ago, I would do anything to maintain control in my classroom. Rarely were students allowed to speak without raising their hand. All of the desks in my room faced forward, and I controlled all communication. Collaboration back then looked like the occasional “turn and talk” between desk partners, and sometimes we would have problem-solving partner days where students solved word problems together.
After a decade in the classroom, this year I took a role in my district as an elementary and middle school math instructional coach. Part of my job is going into a wide variety of classrooms between multiple different schools and grade levels. Each classroom I enter is different, but one thing is consistent—the best classrooms feature students collaborating in a variety of different ways. Additionally, the teachers in these classrooms have more of a role as coach, mentor, and guide than traditional “front of the room” practitioner.
Increasing collaboration in the classroom goes way beyond having students work together once in a while. Your job as a classroom teacher should be to create a culture in which teamwork is front and center in everything that you do. There are three types of collaboration in the classroom: between students, between yourself and students, and between the students and yourself.…Read More